Here’s some stuff I’ve read and enjoyed recently:
Tom Perrotta’s Joe College: A Novel is the fast-paced and darkly humorous tale of Danny, a kid from a working-class background who attends Yale in the early 80s. At work in this novel is Danny’s struggle between the fancy restaurant world of his college life and the tawdry strip club world of his hometown life. These two worlds are symbolized by the type of women Danny is attracted to (or not) in each of them–and when the worlds collide we see what he is really made of. Basically, he tries to be a good guy, help his father, but he makes shitty choices and sleeps with a hometown woman he doesn’t love and then doesn’t stand by her when she later ends up pregnant. It would be easy to judge Danny in this situation (and I did) but I found it utterly believable that he chose his comfort over doing “the right thing” and because of that I thought this book was a real gem.
Just finished the Winter 2007issue of The Kenyon Review. Man was there some great stuff in there. Enjoyed the Patrick Tobin story very much and was utterly blown away by Holly Goddard Jones‘s story Life Expectancy. The story starts out simple enough–a high school basketball coach is having an affair with one of his female players–but as things progress and the more you learn about the circumstances of the coach, his life outside of the school, the deeper and deeper the story draws you into the vortex of helplessness. And the ending! Whoosh! It’s a punch right in your gut.
Last but not least, Meridian Issue 18 features an excellent story by my friend Matthew M. Quick. As I told him after I read the story, it has two of my favorite things a quirky protagonist (who is in his late 30s and lives with his parents and has a paper route while he pursues his dream of becoming a Shakeperean actor) and Shakespeare. Don’t miss it.